I logged in to my Medium account with the intention of writing something, but I didn’t know what it would be. Then on the home page of my feed I read an article by Jesse Genet, CEO of Lumi, titled: “Running a business with boobs: the things I never say”.
Read it. It lists some unfortunately common things that women in business go through…we all have these types of stories to share. Countless stupid stories. Most left un-shared. But if we don’t share them, they’ll continue to be common. So let’s just throw it all out there ladies and gentlemen…and put an end to this sh*t sooner rather than later.
- Don’t hit on women at business events.
I walked up to an exhibitor’s booth at a business event where a male CEO introduced himself by shaking my hand and then holding it extra long with both of his hands while muttering something inappropriate in a low tone about what we’d be doing if we weren’t at a business event. W.T.F. I snatched my hand away, attempted to talk business instead of pleasure but he brushed me off when he didn’t like my responses and said,
“I’ll have to talk to your husband about your business’ growth strategies.”
This is amusing and embarrassing for him, because, as I told this man, “No, actually, I’m the CEO. You’ll have to talk to me.” — Not the best way to grow your own business. Not sure anyone needs to be talking to this guy about business growth strategies. In fact, I left the event shortly after this incident, stopped by the event registration table, reported his *ss and sadly, but not surprisingly, there was a man at the registration table who guessed which CEO I was talking about (by name). People know who the perverts are. Don’t be one.
2. Don’t take a woman’s business card and then call her late at night “just to talk”.
When I was a college student, volunteering for a foundation I’d received a scholarship from (at a luncheon for educators), a man came up and started talking to me about what I thought was normal business conversation. We exchanged cards to continue conversations about possibly working together. Then I got a call around 10pm at night…I’m sitting next to my husband in our home office, working late, mind you. I almost didn’t answer because who calls at 10pm at night? Oh yeah…perverts.
This man had no shame in starting small talk that had absolutely nothing to do with business and when I asked what he was calling about he said he “just wanted to talk”. Trust I made it awkward enough that the call ended quickly. I should also note that this man is well known and respected in our city, Houston. My husband and I both knew who he was and have met him before, I guess he forgot. We have several mutual friends and colleagues in common. Regardless…
Don’t hit on women at business functions. Especially college students. ESPECIALLY if you’re a college teacher.
(This man still is.)
3. No, I’m not the help.
I get it. I’m brown. I’m a woman. I’m dressed up at a business event. I must be a waitress. Sadly, I never have a serving tray of food or drinks ready or information about where the bathrooms are. I admit, I’m a sh*tty waitress. Although this doesn’t just happen at luncheons and conferences. It happens at the grocery store and department stores too. Pretty much anywhere there are people who don’t look like me, who need help.
4. I don’t need makeup to do my job. Or heels.
My days behind the CK cosmetics counter at Dillard’s are over. I don’t sell makeup anymore, I sell digital media services. I also often carry heavy equipment and need to keep a steady hand while capturing video footage. Trust me, that’s not gonna happen in 5" heels. I’m also not a movie star in an action movie or a teenage girl going to the club. I’m a 30-something digital media professional behind cameras and computers. I wear combat boots and chapstick and I get sh*t done.
5. I’m not here to entertain your wife. I’m here to talk business.
This scenario goes the same way every time. I’m at a business function like a dinner, a gala, etc…somewhere you usually invite your spouse to come along. In my scenario, my spouse is also my business partner. Inevitably we end up in group conversations where the men invite the other men to the bar for a drink, ask their wives what they’d like to drink and then leave all the wives alone together while the men go off and talk business at the bar.
I wish I could say this often leads to great conversations but unfortunately, it usually leads to me being questioned about why we don’t have kids, why we don’t want kids, how great having kids is, or some other small talk conversation that has nothing to do with business — which is the only reason I attend these functions in the first place. Occasionally, if I’m lucky, the men in the room make eye contact with me once or twice when I find my way back into the group conversations. Although most of the time I’m ignored as if I wasn’t even there. It’s a pretty crazy magic trick. Invincibility is a pretty bad*ss skill. When I’m feeling extra magical I excuse myself to “go to the bathroom” and make sure not to come back.
Some might say I should speak up and be more aggressive. My feelings are…if you’re that kind of person…that I have to fight for your attention or repeatedly get in your face so you actually look at me when I’m talking, you’re not worth my time or effort. There are plenty of people who notice my existence and are genuinely interested in talking to women and men alike. I’d much rather do business with those people.
With that said, It’s 3:58am so I’ll end with just those 5 personal experiences because you guessed it…this woman has to wake up early and get back to running a business. Regardless of the inevitable BS to come.
*Puts on invincibility cape and disappears into the night.